There’s no honor in fake feather headdresses…

The Lakota have many, many ancestors who were Akicita. They are the primary reason why our sons and daughters still feel the pull to join the military. The warrior spirit is in our DNA. While the country is remembering our veterans this week, I know that many Lakota people remember our veterans and active duty soldiers every single day in their prayers.


I remember going to a ceremony and the medicine man named every Lakota veteran who walked in the spirit world. He also remembered deceased veterans from many other tribes, each one by name, in the ceremony. The ceremonial roll call he offered reminded me that only spiritual power could give him the ability to remember that many names. I could feel the presence of those warrior spirits in the fire, it was awesome.


He also remembered the ancient Akicita. He spoke the names of Tasunke Witko and Iyotanka Tatanka, along with many others, in his eulogy for our veterans. If not for these first warriors, the Lakota would surely not be here today. We would have long been melted into the proverbial pot.


Our ancestors were the first warriors. The old school black and white pictures we see nowadays depict many of them proudly wearing their sacred eagle feather headdresses. Those headdresses were worn for a reason. Each eagle feather was bestowed upon our combat warriors mainly because of a brave deed done in battle.


The Akicita and Itancan who are immortalized in those old pictures wearing the sacred eagle feather headdress, some which trailed down to the ground, were our fiercest defenders. The put their lives on the line by standing in the front when the attacks were launched upon our villages; they earned those Wiyaka with their unwavering protection of the lives of elders, women and children.


When I see a black and white picture of a Lakota man wearing an eagle feather headdress which reaches clear to the ground, I know he was a brave man who feared nothing. He feared nothing. The headdress tells me that. The eagle feathers were not just passed around for show, they were earned. Oftentimes they were given after much blood, sweat and tears were shed.


The eagle feather headdress is sacred. If you are Lakota or a member of any other Indian tribe then you already know this. Elders continue to remind us about how the sacred eagle feather headdress is an extremely important symbol to our warrior societies. The headdress represents an Akicita and perhaps an Itancan.


Many of us are taught that not everyone can wear the eagle feather. It is disrespectful to create those imitation headdresses from artificial feathers, in my opinion. I also believe it is disrespectful to both the sacred eagle and our ancestors for just anyone to wear a headdress, even when it is fashioned from artificial feathers.


Consequently, Halloween is a trying time. It is the time of year when people dress up in imitation of something else. I say it is a trying time because there are Halloween costumes which depict American Indian people. There are the Indian princess, Indian warrior and Indian chief costumes being sold online and in Halloween stores. By the way, do any of you know where did the Indian princess concept originated from? When someone says they are descended from an Indian princess, I always have to resist the urge to ask who the Indian king was.


In addition, I try not to get caught up in the sports mascot issue where our people are depicted as caricatures of some team pet, such as, Indians, Redskins, Fighting Sioux, etc. I just think to myself how absolutely ridiculous they look with their imitation war paint, feathers and plastic tomahawks. It would be bliss to be so utterly ignorant!


I also try not to take offense when I see wasicu women dressed up in the same type of imitation garb, complete with the fake feather headdress. Do they realize how ludicrous they actually appear? Apparently they do not. Again, ignorance is bliss for some people.


Victoria’s Secret recently ran a video where a wasicu woman, dressed only in underwear, donned the fake feather headdress and turquoise jewelry to stroll down the runway. I didn’t like it, not at all. There was no honoring my Akicita in the image I saw. There was no honoring our brave ancestors who fought and died for our people, our land and the right to wear the sacred eagle feather headdress.


Our ancestors fought and defeated the United States Army on the Little Big Horn Battlefield. We are the only people to have captured the enemy flag, which was left lying on the ground after Custer and his troop were annihilated. We still have this flag! Our Lakota Akicita are known throughout the world for their courage. Our people still sing songs honoring the victory of 1876.


Our warriors are the only people on this planet who have earned the right to wear the sacred eagle feather headdress. It is a symbol of everything we as Lakota people still stand for. So yes, I take offense when I see some wasicu woman wearing only underwear and a fake feather headdress. There is no honoring my ancestors with stunts like this.


But again, ignorance is bliss for some wasicu. In their arrogance they maintain they honor the Lakota and other tribal people when they don those silly costumes. Their ignorance allows them to remain blind to how ridiculous they really look when they try to imitate the way our people dress. Sometimes we grow weary of this endless fight to educate them on how we feel and choose to remain silent as some wasicu have no ears to hear.


This week we acknowledge our Lakota Akicita with pride for their courage, bravery and sacrifice. Our brave warrior soldiers are the reason we have the sacred eagle feather headdress, don’t let the wasicu fool you with imitations.







Published by Vi Waln


4 thoughts on “There’s no honor in fake feather headdresses…

  1. some say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but in this instance I feel imitation means ignorance and disrespect to the Native tribes. The Victoria Secrets ad was totally disrespective and I feel they should at least issue a public apology!

  2. Very well said indeed. I am a Métis, a Canadian of mixed European and Native American ancestry. My Native ancestry is Blackfoot. I was taught from a very young age that the Eagle Feather is a very sacred thing to be respected. It makes me sad and angry that there are still so many people who do not respect the old ways and the traditions of the Eagle Feather. I have had to take eagle feathers away from mundanes who were disrespecting them. I have even used money to get these feathers back from ignorant people. I have given the feathers to elders when possible so that at least they would be shown respect after that. Thanks for the great article. Well done!

  3. Eagle feathers & raven feathers are special to all peoples where these birds are found: there is no excuse for ignorance, V S abused European tradition along with every other. may that poor, silly girl wake up to her mistake. Money is not food or warmth,as many may soon know.

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